Tour Lovejoy Fountain and Other Water Features in Portland, Oregon
Visit Lovejoy Fountain, Salmon Street Springs, Skidmore and Keller Fountains, and Pioneer Courthouse Square on an Easy Downtown Tour by Foot and Streetcar
Portland’s downtown water features and fountains are worth a visit, especially in the warm days of Summer. They can all be reached on foot, but directions here combine easy walks with short hops on Portland’s free downtown public transportation.
Pioneer Courthouse Square
Start in the heart of downtown, at Pioneer Courthouse Square, between Southwest Morrison and Yamhill streets at Broadway. At this central plaza, or “Portland’s living room” as locals call it, cool yourself next to a waterfall that cascades from spouts on the upper sidewalk level to pools on the plaza level below. Amphitheater style seating circles the plaza. The Visitor Center under the waterfall offers free maps of downtown, plus a walking tour map of the fountains.
Pioneer Courthouse Square is a hub for public transportation in the central city. Max light rail runs east and west on streets adjacent to the plaza. The Portland Streetcar runs north on 10th Avenue and south on 11th Avenue, just a short walk from the square.
Take the southbound streetcar to Lovejoy Fountain in spacious Lovejoy Park. Get off at SW 3rd Ave. and Harrison St. and cross behind the streetcar. Follow the pedestrian walkway south to the fountain. Water tumbles down sculpted rocks and ladders into broad pools ideal for wading or just dangling your feet. There’s also a large covered picnic area with benches.
Ira Keller Fountain
Ira Keller Fountain is just a short walk from Lovejoy Park. Retrace your steps to Harrison, cross the street and continue north on the pedestrian walkway. The fountain is between SW Market and Clay streets and 3rd and 4th avenues. Here the water flows over a series of terraces and depressions, finally falling to a still pool below. Built into a slope, trees shade the upper grassy level. Tiered seating around the lower pool invites sitting and resting by the cool spray. Children splash in both the upper and lower pools, but beware: the terraces are steep and can be slippery.
Continue walking north to Elk Fountain, between 3rd and 4th avenues on SW Main Street. It was built in 1900 as a watering spot for horses and dogs. The elk standing proud above the water was designed as a reminder of the real elk that once roamed the area.
Salmon Street Springs
Walk another block north and turn right on Salmon Street. Continue three blocks to the riverfront and Salmon Street Springs. In an impressive dance of ever-changing rhythms, water sprays from more than 100 jets. It might start as a series of low spurts, build to a towering fountain, then stop momentarily only to jump out again to the delight of children and adults who flock here to cool off.
The city’s oldest work of public art, Skidmore Fountain, is 10 blocks further north at SW 1st Ave. between Burnside and Ankeny. To get there on light rail, catch MAX at SW 1st Ave. and Yamhill St. (two blocks north of Salmon), and ride to the Skidmore Fountain stop. The fountain was built in 1888 in what was then the city center. Today the spot is the center of the weekend Portland Saturday Market with hundreds of vendors selling crafts and international foods from March to Christmas.
MAX returns to Pioneer Courthouse Square from Skidmore Fountain.